Future Directions - By Deborah Schaefer, Learning & Development Coordinator based in Nhulunbuy at East Arnhem Regional Council

Embracing change and workforce upskilling in East Arnhem.

Hello! How are you? Nhamirri nhe (Yolngu Matha)
Where are you going? Ngambuwa (Anindilyakwan)
Two local indigenous languages and two pertinent questions for me, as a very new employee of East Arnhem Regional
Council (EARC).

New to the region and stepping into a newly created Learning and Development Coordinator position makes the ‘how’ question response exploratory in nature.

My journey thus far has included, most notably, becoming familiarised with the new Learning Management System (LMS), which is currently being developed and soon to be trialed. This e-Learning system will replace the current face-to-face, teleconferencing and PowerPoint presentation strategies used for
training delivery.

To appreciate the sheer challenges that distance alone plays in providing regular training, it’s important to know that East Arnhem Regional Council, located in the far north-eastern corner of the NT, covers a land mass of approximately 33,000km2, and is responsible for nine communities, five of which are located on islands. And this is just one of the challenges we face as an organisation dedicated to the ongoing training and development of our staff.

From an organisational perspective, the development and implementation of such an LMS involves considerable organisational change – both in our actions and our mindset. The successful rollout of e-Learning also requires that the implementation strategy is tailored to our unique organisational requirements, not a cookie cutter solution.

The content of the LMS will be a combination of ready-made/off-the-shelf e-Learning and more excitingly for me, custom-made training materials. Such custom content development requires instructional design and multimedia expertise in order to capture, for example, demonstrated skills and competencies. The added dimensional challenge of producing culturally and linguistically appropriate learning materials makes this journey more challenging and arduous, but equally more exciting and potentially rewarding. More importantly, these culturally relevant custom programs will increase buy–in and ownership from our local staff, increasing the chance of a successful implementation.

For the current 307 Council employees, of whom 197 identify as Aboriginal or Torres Straight Islander, the training and professional development journey is to become more of a question of “Where do I want to go?”